B-159462, AUGUST 26, 1966, 46 COMP. GEN. 170

B-159462: Aug 26, 1966

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THE COST OF PURCHASING SPECIAL UNIFORMS BY CIVILIAN NURSING ASSISTANTS AND DIET WORKERS AT AN AIR FORCE HOSPITAL IS NOT REIMBURSABLE UNDER 5 U.S.C. 118G. THE PROCUREMENT OF UNIFORMS FOR EMPLOYEES IS A MATTER WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF EACH BASE COMMAND. THE FACT THAT UNIFORMS ARE NOT ISSUED DOES NOT AUTHORIZE EMPLOYEES TO PURCHASE THEM AND TO BE REIMBURSED. WE NOTE FROM THE RECORD THAT ALL OF THE CLAIMANTS WERE EITHER NURSING ASSISTANTS. READS IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS: THERE IS AUTHORIZED TO BE APPROPRIATED ANNUALLY TO EACH AGENCY OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES * * * UPON A SHOWING OF THE NECESSITY OR DESIRABILITY THEREOF. AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED $100 MULTIPLIED BY THE NUMBER OF THE EMPLOYEES OF SUCH AGENCY WHO ARE REQUIRED BY REGULATION EXISTING ON THE DATE OF ENACTMENT OF THIS ACT OR BY LAW TO WHERE A PRESCRIBED UNIFORM IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS OR HER OFFICIAL DUTIES AND WHO ARE NOT BEING FURNISHED WITH SUCH UNIFORM.

B-159462, AUGUST 26, 1966, 46 COMP. GEN. 170

UNIFORMS - CIVILIAN PERSONNEL - PURCHASES BY EMPLOYEES - REIMBURSEMENT. THE COST OF PURCHASING SPECIAL UNIFORMS BY CIVILIAN NURSING ASSISTANTS AND DIET WORKERS AT AN AIR FORCE HOSPITAL IS NOT REIMBURSABLE UNDER 5 U.S.C. 118G, AUTHORIZING SPECIAL CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT IN KIND AND NOT A CLOTHING OR UNIFORM ALLOWANCE. THE PROCUREMENT OF UNIFORMS FOR EMPLOYEES IS A MATTER WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF EACH BASE COMMAND, SUBJECT TO THE AVAILABILITY OF OPERATIONAL AND MAINTENANCE FUNDS, AND THE FACT THAT UNIFORMS ARE NOT ISSUED DOES NOT AUTHORIZE EMPLOYEES TO PURCHASE THEM AND TO BE REIMBURSED. FAILURE ON THE PART OF MANAGEMENT TO FURNISH UNIFORMS, OR ON THE PART OF EMPLOYEES TO SECURE THEM, CREATES NO OBLIGATION ON THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY THE MONETARY ALLOWANCE PROVIDED BY 5 U.S.C. 2131 TO AN EMPLOYEE PURCHASING UNIFORMS, THE EXPENDITURE OF PERSONAL FUNDS CONSTITUTING THE EMPLOYEE A VOLUNTEER WHO MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS.

TO RAMONA HAWK, AUGUST 26, 1966:

YOUR LETTER OF MAY 10, 1966, SIGNED BY YOU AND ELEVEN OTHER EMPLOYEES, REQUESTS FURTHER CONSIDERATION OF OUR DISALLOWANCES DATED MARCH 25, 1966, OF CLAIMS Z2-291-556 THROUGH Z2-291-567 FOR REIMBURSEMENT FOR PERSONAL EXPENDITURES INCURRED FOR SPECIAL UNIFORMS WORN AS CIVILIAN EMPLOYEES OF THE DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE, UNITED STATES AIR FORCE HOSPITAL, TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, CALIFORNIA. WE NOTE FROM THE RECORD THAT ALL OF THE CLAIMANTS WERE EITHER NURSING ASSISTANTS, GS-3, OR DIET WORKERS, W-4.

SECTION 13, PUBLIC LAW 600, 60 STAT. 809, 5 U.S.C. 118G READS AS FOLLOWS:

APPROPRIATIONS AVAILABLE FOR THE PROCUREMENT OF SUPPLIES AND MATERIAL OR EQUIPMENT SHALL BE AVAILABLE FOR THE PURCHASE AND MAINTENANCE OF SPECIAL CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT FOR THE PROTECTION OF PERSONNEL IN THE PERFORMANCE OF THEIR ASSIGNED TASKS.

TITLE IV, UNIFORM ALLOWANCES, PUBLIC LAW 763, APPROVED SEPTEMBER 1, 1954 (1952 ED; SUPP. II) 68 STAT. 1114, 5 U.S.C. 2131, READS IN PERTINENT PART AS FOLLOWS:

THERE IS AUTHORIZED TO BE APPROPRIATED ANNUALLY TO EACH AGENCY OF THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES * * * UPON A SHOWING OF THE NECESSITY OR DESIRABILITY THEREOF, AN AMOUNT NOT TO EXCEED $100 MULTIPLIED BY THE NUMBER OF THE EMPLOYEES OF SUCH AGENCY WHO ARE REQUIRED BY REGULATION EXISTING ON THE DATE OF ENACTMENT OF THIS ACT OR BY LAW TO WHERE A PRESCRIBED UNIFORM IN THE PERFORMANCE OF HIS OR HER OFFICIAL DUTIES AND WHO ARE NOT BEING FURNISHED WITH SUCH UNIFORM. THE HEAD OF ANY AGENCY TO WHICH ANY SUCH APPROPRIATION IS MADE SHALL, OUT OF FUNDS MADE AVAILABLE BY SUCH APPROPRIATION, (1) FURNISH TO EACH SUCH EMPLOYEE SUCH UNIFORM AT A COST NOT TO EXCEED $100 PER ANNUM, OR (2) PAY TO EACH SUCH EMPLOYEE AN ALLOWANCE FOR DEFRAYING THE EXPENSES OF ACQUISITION OF SUCH UNIFORM AT SUCH TIMES AND IN SUCH AMOUNTS, NOT TO EXCED $100 PER ANNUM, AS MAY BE PRESCRIBED IN ACCORDANCE WITH RULES AND REGULATIONS * * *. WHERE THE FURNISHING OF A UNIFORM OR THE PAYMENT OF A UNIFORM ALLOWANCE IS AUTHORIZED UNDER ANY OTHER PROVISION OF LAW OR REGULATION EXISTING ON THE DATE OF ENACTMENT OF THIS ACT, THE HEAD OF THE AGENCY MAY IN HIS DISCRETION CONTINUE THE FURNISHING OF SUCH UNIFORM OR THE PAYMENT OF SUCH ALLOWANCE UNDER SUCH LAW OR REGULATION, BUT WHERE A UNIFORM IS FURNISHED OR ALLOWANCE PAID UNDER ANY SUCH LAW OR REGULATION NO UNIFORM SHALL BE FURNISHED OR ALLOWANCE PAID UNDER THIS SECTION.

THE FIRST QUOTED STATUTE IS PERMISSIVE ONLY AND, SUBJECT TO AVAILABLE APPROPRIATED FUNDS, MAY BE IMPLEMENTED ONLY BY DEPARTMENTAL REGULATIONS. THE LAW AUTHORIZES ONLY THE FURNISHING OF SPECIAL CLOTHING AND EQUIPMENT IN KIND AND NOT CLOTHING OR UNIFORM ALLOWANCES. IN IMPLEMENTING THE STATUTE THE DEPARTMENT OF THE AIR FORCE ISSUED TABLE OF ALLOWANCES NO. 1- 21. THIS TABLE PRESCRIBED THE ESSENTIAL ITEMS OF EQUIPMENT NORMALLY REQUIRED FOR ASSIGNED DUTIES OF PERSONNEL. HOWEVER, THE PROCUREMENT OF UNIFORMS FOR NURSING ASSISTANTS AND FOOD HANDLERS IS A MATTER WITHIN THE DISCRETION OF EACH BASE COMMAND, SUBJECT TO THE AVAILABILITY OF OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE FUNDS. A DETERMINATION TO RESTRICT ISSUE COULD BE BASED UPON A SHORTAGE OF FUNDS. THE BASE COMMANDER HAD THE AUTHORITY UNDER THE ABOVE-CITED TABLE TO PROCURE AND ISSUE OR NOT TO ISSUE SUCH CLOTHING. APPEARS FROM THE RECORD THAT UNIFORMS WERE NOT ISSUED TO NURSING ASSISTANTS AND FOOD HANDLING PERSONNEL UNTIL APPROXIMATELY NOVEMBER 1965.

THE SECOND QUOTED STATUTE HAS NO APPLICATION IN THESE CASES SINCE UNDER THE PROVISIONS OF AFR 40-17, DATED NOVEMBER 28, 1955, AND THE CURRENT AFR 40-530, DATED AUGUST 9, 1963, MEDICAL AND FOOD SERVICE PERSONNEL WERE SPECIFICALLY EXCLUDED THEREFROM. IN OTHER WORDS SUCH PERSONNEL WERE CONTINUED SUBJECT TO THE TABLE OF ALLOWANCES NO. 1-21 CURRENTLY IDENTIFIED AS TA 016, DATED FEBRUARY 1, 1966, ISSUED UNDER SECTION 13, PUBLIC LAW 600, QUOTED ABOVE.

ANY FAILURE ON THE PART OF MANAGEMENT TO FURNISH SUCH UNIFORMS OR ON THE PART OF EMPLOYEES TO SECURE THEM CREATED NO OBLIGATION ON THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY A MONETARY ALLOWANCE TO ANY EMPLOYEE WHO PURCHASED SUCH UNIFORMS FROM PERSONAL FUNDS. SUCH EXPENDITURE OF PERSONAL FUNDS CONSTITUTED THE EMPLOYEE A VOLUNTEER WHO MAY NOT BE REIMBURSED FROM GOVERNMENT FUNDS.

WE FIND NO BASIS, UPON THE PRESENT RECORD, FOR ALLOWANCE OF THESE CLAIMS. ACCORDINGLY, OUR DISALLAWANCES OF MARCH 25, 1966, MUST BE SUSTAINED.